LETHBRIDGE – It’s uncommon to see people walking the streets barefoot but for 39-year-old Lilian Blackmore and 25-year-old Sierra Codizal, it’s the only way they leave the house.
“It is what makes me happy. I haven’t looked back. I donated most of my shoes,” said Codizal.
The pair get looks and oftentimes comments.
“They range from ‘Oh my God, are you okay?’, ‘Do you need help?’ Someone thought I wandered away from a mental institution, once,” added Codizal.
Blackmore, who recently celebrated her second barefoot anniversary, has had people offer to buy her shoes. But this is her way of life.
“It’s my challenge to make Lethbridge the first barefoot-friendly city in Canada,” said Blackmore.
“None of grocery stores have issues. None of the banks have issues with people being barefoot.”
She has a Facebook page in hopes of educating and inspiring others to embrace the no-shoe movement.
“If someone wants to be barefoot for the day, it’s not because they are joining me in a group, it’s not a bandwagon. It’s just they are allowed to do it.”
However, one Lethbridge podiatrist doesn’t recommend it for everyone.
Dr. Drew Williams said people with high arches, flat feet or diabetes are most at risk of injury.
“If they were to do it in a situation like that, they will want to examine the foot more closely and really just be honest with themselves,” said Williams. “If they are feeling good and doing well, great. But if they are suffering and struggling, they may want to re-evaluate why they’re doing it.”
Both Blackmore and Codizal said they have experienced health benefits by going barefoot. But they advise anyone interested in transitioning to it to take it slow.
“You have to build up your tolerance and if you don’t build up the strength, you will get injured,” said Codizal.
The pair hopes that greater awareness will encourage more people to walk a mile in their birth shoe.